Green-Light for Robo-Taxi Services in San Francisco

Paul Myles, Europe Correspondent

August 14, 2023

1 Min Read
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Despite hearing six hours of objections from San Francisco residents associations, police and fire authorities, the US State of California has given the go ahead for commercial robo-taxi services in the city.

Both Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise have been granted permission by the California Public Utilities Commission to allow paying customers to use their services without restrictions day and night, the BBC reports. The news comes as a blow to authorities who struggled with numerous instances of robo-taxi vehicles taking customers to wrong addresses and stopping at junctions causing extensive traffic congestion and hampering the work of first responders on incidents.

Naturally, Waymo, which has been offering free rides in its robo-taxis throughout the city since last year, called the decision “the true beginning of our commercial operations in San Francisco”. Meanwhile, Cruise described the moment as a “historic industry milestone”. The Commission board approved the expansion 3-1.
In the statement announcing the approval, commissioners acknowledged that data on how autonomous vehicle safety records compare with regular cars was limited. “While we do not yet have the data to judge [autonomous vehicles] against the standard human drivers are setting, I do believe in the potential of this technology to increase safety on the roadway,” said commissioner John Reynolds who, himself, had previously worked at Cruise.

Waymo said it was planning a gradual expansion of its program, despite what it expects to be strong demand. It said more than 100,000 people in the Bay Area had registered for the service, which has a waiting list and is not yet fully open to the public.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_  and Threads

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

Europe Correspondent, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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